Everytime I hear about "Cisco Servers" I still stop and think for a few seconds, "Wait... Cisco? Servers?!" I haven't heard much about their value though. I'm not interested in their performance as far as CPU, disk subsystem and all that is concerned. I'm sure they stack up nicely if they use industry standard components; only the most tip-top applications would probably find something to pick on.

I'm more interested in how they behave from a SysAdmin-y viewpoint. Are BIOS updates forthcoming, what about low level management tools such as managing the BIOS versions across multiple servers, managing drivers (I'm thinking about HP's ProLiant Support Pack), out of band management (think iLO or DRAC), web site support (how easy is it to navigate the Cisco Server site when you're looking for soemthing), phone support, etc. and etc.

Does anyone here use Cisco servers and if so, would you be willing to share your expereince with them?

Tags: cisco, servers

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I haven't used them myself but my understanding is that these aren't general purpose servers. Rather they are built exclusively for VMware deployments and tightly integrate with VMware; Nexus 1000V instead of vSwitch as an example. The servers ship (I think by default?) with a 10GE link that ties into a storage and IP networking fabric.

So Cisco isn't selling servers per se; but they are selling a platform of which servers are a component. The whole thing is tired together on a common management platform. It's really intended to be the hardware for the "cloud" (I hate that term, btw).

My understanding is that the servers are managed as a group instead of as individual boxes. Consider this page for example. That sounds like a complete pain if you're only dealing with one server but makes sense if your dealing with large amounts. Notice the reference to the fabric; the server is only an extension of the network.

In fairness I haven't worked with Cisco UCS so I don't have first hand experience, and I could very well be wrong. This post is based on my reading of documentation, Cisco sales materials, miscellaneous blog posts.
All of that is what I suspected, but just hadn't had the interest to find out more about. It seemed that they were somehow extensions of their UCS ideals. I didn't know about their close ties to VMWare though. Might be worth looking more into, but not for the scale of things I tend to work with.

Thanks for the insight!
Yeah, networks used to be just about routers and switches but now vendors, Cisco preeminently, are pushing a lot of integration and functionality into the network. Stuff like the CSA\MARS combo is kind of cool but kind of scary.

A while back VMware, EMC and Cisco announced a broad reaching strategic partnership; a triple alliance or triple entente if you will. Stuff like the UCS boxes and 1000V flows from that.

I know the guy who installed the setup absolutely loved the Cisco machines. As for the management - I think cisco is the address to go to about this :)


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